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Sleepless in Primorye

Pavel Vanifatov: Photographer that shoots the night

Vladivostok falls asleep - wakes up Pavel Vanifatov. The man, whose two-meter-long figure has been seen for many years by the late Primorye and guests of the Far East –– in the doorways, by the bridges, abandoned buildings, or the edge of the sea. Everywhere he seeks the "magic of the night." In the afternoon, Pavel is a successful manager, and in the dark it takes pictures that are published by Russian magazines of various profiles. This winter, the photographer is touring the Far East with free master classes. EastRussia visited one of them and learned how to turn almost any city in San Francisco, why it is not worth darkening even at night, and how photography can reduce crime in the country.

Sleepless in Primorye
Photo: Pavel Vanifatov
Silhouette: Pavel Vanifatov. Photo: Sergey Zaika. 

- Paulyou studied as a doctor (manual therapy and applied kinesiology - EastRussia), but left the profession. Was she too exotic for the hungry Soviet era?
- For a hungry new Russian time, even say. At the end of 90, I went into commerce so that I could feed the mastiff, fill up the car. I had to make a choice between treating people and making money. There was a choice: either go to the doctor’s bid for 3,5 thousand rubles per month, or work in a commercial organization for 35 thousand rubles per month, that is, the difference is small, only ten times. I settled into a trading company and went from a sales representative to the top of the career ladder. Then, when I had already achieved success, I realized that I wanted to fill life with something else.

Industrial sunset. Photo: Pavel Vanifatov

- Do not regret the choice?
- I constantly communicate with fellow students, the guys still get a little money! The work is difficult, nervous, patients are increasingly demanding, certification is introduced. Again, the authorities are beginning to put pressure on the topic of criminal liability for medical errors, and this can simply kill the medicine. Sometimes I feel sad because everyone says that I would make a good doctor.

- You position yourself as a night photographer. Is there a daily time division in your environment, competition?
- There is practically no competition, because in the same Vladivostok only a few guys are filming the night, and that is haphazard. I understand them, because this area is not in great demand commercially, and few people are engaged in it, because you need not be lazy, not stay at home, leave your comfort zone. Imagine: you came home, took off your shoes, warmed up, you feel warm, and the very thought that now you need to freeze in the cold, stand for half an hour or an hour to freeze in order to get a beautiful picture that you can hardly sell to someone - it stops, is not it? And so - night photography is interesting for those who cannot take pictures during the day, like me, for example, because I work during the day.

Winter folk fun in Vladivostok. Photo: Pavel Vanifatov  

- Are there any notes of social phobia in the night photo hunt?
- I am usually lucky to have good people, but honestly: I like to be alone. I turn on the music, catch the wave and start seeing everything differently. Night photography is an illusion, another reality that we simply do not see during the day when we are busy with business. Night is a time of magic, when you see the city in a different light, and the night has its own unique light, I see it and try to convey it in photographs. Night is inspiration, there is no need to rush anywhere. And at night no one will tell me: where are my pictures? Or - why am I so sad here? 

Biker dreams. Photo: Pavel Vanifatov

- What is the mode of the day at the "adepts" of the night?
- In the afternoon I earn money, in the evening and at night - I photograph. Now I work on a five-day week in a trading company, I sleep no more than 5-6 hours. Sometimes you can take time out and sleep from the heart on Saturday.

- Vladivostok is not a frosty city, but still - how do you warm yourself on the set?
- Yes, we are not very cold, but I would like to warn about the other. At night you are alone, and it is very important to take care of security! It is optimal to go "on business" with someone together or with a dog. Obviously avoid places where asocial people gather - besides, there is rarely something beautiful there. 

I also always advise, if possible, to be in a car. Do not stand on the street with a tripod, to attract attention. You drove up, made all the settings in the car, and the shooting should take just a couple of minutes. That is, you have already made a shot in your head that you will shoot, come out, put up a tripod, direct it, press the shutter button, take it off, check it, get into the car, leave. At night, there are conflicts with the outcasts. If you light them in the face with a flashlight in strobe mode, you will have 10-15 seconds to leave while they blink their eyes.

The night of a million stars. Photo: Pavel Vanifatov

- You had risky moments?
- There were, but ended safely. Usually it is drunk people who are not aware of themselves. They do not have the instinct of self-preservation, and the consequences may be different. Abroad in this respect is much easier, in the same Czech Republic or Japan you can walk for a long time and safely. We need to be on our guard day and night. A girl photographer needs to take a non-photographer boy with him.

- Your Viking physique is the best guardian amulet. Probably stand out in Asian countries?
“No one there is paying attention to you.” But only until you yourself turn to people, or, for example, do not ask for help, then they begin to actively help you, escort you where necessary, pass each other along the chain.

- This winter you are touring the Far East with master classes - Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Khabarovsk. Is it free for people?
- This is not a tour, but an easy trip. Next will be Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, then we'll see. Trips are sponsored by one company, I promote it. I have long wanted a camera, which is easy to shoot, how to breathe, and I found it. Although it is believed that the photographer should suffer, drag a bunch of equipment, a tripod.

Workshop by Pavel Vanifatov in Khabarovsk. Photo: Victor Burnashev   

- What is Pavel Vanifatov’s gross weight now?
- All my equipment hangs on me, the second lens is in my bag, the wide-angle is in my pocket - 250 gr., I have grams of 700, 24 / 200 universal lens, somewhere else the camera is small in my pocket, and the telephoto with me grams 300. Earlier, plus to my rather big one was 14 kg of extra weight! I even had a trolley, as grandmothers walk, put a bag with equipment there and rolled it.

- And is all this wealth worth half a car?
- This kit is not cheap, thousands of 170, in the pocket of thousands of 60, in another 60, total 110. All together 300 thousand. But all the tricks are blocked: I can take a portrait, a landscape, a flying bird, a room, and it's all just laid out in my pockets. 
- Do you have experience of living in other cities?
- Long trips there, two or three weeks, but no more. In 2010, I wanted to move to Peter. Arranged a job and an apartment, and lived there for a while as a tourist. It was a comfortable time - August, but even in this demo version of Peter, I caught myself thinking that I did not like the city. He is dead. He was at the peak when it was built, seething in the Silver Age, although it was already decadent. The 19 century may be the beginning of 20, and now these are the remnants: a beautiful facade, awful courtyards, and a low gloomy sky. The sky there is just horrible, it presses. I could not live there. 
Yes, there is culture, and the metro is there, but guys, what to laugh? Change the sea, the scope for it? In the same Czech Republic thought to go. Came, we communicate with the girl, she speaks: "Well, beauty!". I answer: "There is no space." She: “Well, how not? Look, here are the fields. ” I: "Understand, we drove by car 170 km from Prague, and you have already ended the country, but I did not even reach Nakhodka!"

I see what is wrong with Vladivostok. But here are my friends, my homeland, and I still see no reason to change anything. I lived in Japan, I watched the rhythm of life there, I think, we simply will not take it out. We live very relaxed, including Moscow. Muscovites rhythm seems to be very active, simply because a lot of time is spent on movements due to traffic jams and traffic. 
Maybe someday I'll go to Iturup to live. It's wonderful there!

- What do you need to earn only a photo and not rush?
- We need to run, look for orders. You need to be praised by clients, and you have to fulfill all obligations on photos. You need to build a client base, learn a lot and invest a lot. Not to speak through my lips: I will shoot this, I will not, but to be omnivorous, look for myself and constantly develop. But I live in reality and I understand that a technical revolution can occur at any moment. 

What happened historically? There were professional film photographers, they were exclusive, they got good money. Then a number appeared, and where are the "film makers" now? Two years later, there will be, for example, holography, you will be able to see the frame, point the gadget, shoot the hologram, and who will need a number? It makes no sense to put yourself in one direction, "all your eggs in one basket". 
Plus we are all humans, and there are freelance, health risks. I am now 45, and I began to feel that time is running out. I'm still brave, but it's getting harder for me to carry it.

"Wings of the East", Vladivostok. Photo: Pavel Vanifatov

- What is the most beautiful of the night cities hit your lens?
- I will praise my “swamp” like a sandpiper, and call Vladivostok. Due to the relief, it is convenient for shooting, you can climb and see another view anywhere in the city. Of the cities on the plain, now I really liked Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk! The guys live in a city completely built under Soviet rule, with all the costs of concrete boxes, but they still try to make it beautiful. 

I teach guys to see the world differently. In the usual sleeping area just a lantern, an evening shot, a little fog or rain, and we already see a fairy tale. Beauty can be seen in everything, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder (s). I am an esthete, and the plots in the evening and at night are dark-dark. 

On the life of tourists in Vladivostok. Do unfinished Hyatt.jpg
On the life of tourists in Vladivostok. In an unfinished Hyatt. Photo: Pavel Vanifatov

- What is happening now in the photo, where the wind blows?
- The technology tells us: let's 42 megapixels, let's 90, video - only 4 K! And who watches it, who uses it? And we are forced to believe it!
I will say about Instagram. There are a lot of naked pops, imitations of a successful life, pretentiousness. But these are not the values! I am for the guys to show our beautiful country. Yes, she is not well-groomed, but she is with potential. 

I want to show through my master classes that you can still take pictures like this. Here it is, my city. In the afternoon, he may not be very, not at home, the streets, the facial expressions of people, and you need to look well, or take hard thrashes, but at night - he is very handsome! 

You get tired of documentaries, because, as Vysotsky sang, "too much pain around." I want as many guys as possible to do photography, no matter what technique, brand, the main thing is to take pictures! Because a person becomes a pure soul. He learns to see the beauty around him, and then he is unlikely to mess, behave inadequately. When you create, you will no longer think about the bad. How else to explain?


Below is the technical "reverse side" of photos from Pavel Vanifatov's master class, his best signature techniques and adventures, which are more than enough at night:     

“North Korean boats. In Primorye, throws a lot of ships on which Koreans go to sea to catch fish a thousand kilometers, including in our waters. Go on inferior engines. Boats with fishermen die in dozens, and then the sea nails them to us. Horror. This is a landmark coast. I had an idea to shoot the shore and highlight the boat with a flashlight. They came out, but here the thunderstorm began Behind, see, a thundercloud with lightning. It just opens the shutter and it shows on the screen how the picture changes. The matrix is ​​gaining light, and shows how it is getting brighter, brighter, brighter ...


... A worn-out view of Vladivostok. How to refresh? We wait for the fog, rise higher, and ... this is all that remains of Vladivostok after it became the capital. Our city closes with a dense veil 3-4 times a year, since in spring and autumn there is a big difference in the temperatures of the water and the sky. And for a photographer, this is a thrill, because the fog hides everything unnecessary. Ordinary people will not go to shoot in this weather, but we know that we need to go up the mountain, and - here they are, magical pictures:

... Evening drone is good for commercial shooting. Here the building is not very beautiful during the day, fire department, neglected lawn, toilet. But there is an architectural lighting. They waited for the evening, and in general another world! Another example. We live in Russia, we know that if there is a road somewhere in the forest, there will definitely be a dump there. Day from a height unsightly picture. We are waiting for an hour, raise the drone into the air, and see the magical city in which you want to live. Or here's the bridge. Muscovites ask: is it your whales? I say, yes, this is what they ate, swim away. Habitual things. Jokes, but this photo almost cost me a drone. I took off, recharged the battery, drove the drone a kilometer from the coast, so that more of the city was in the frame.
And near the closed line, a bunch of radar. I pick it up, and a red light “the signal with the drone is lost” lights up on the screen. And here I understand that my 120 thousands are now very far away. And then I hear my own buzz. He hit the hard beam of the radar, and Peter the Great Bay is guarded. Remember, not everywhere you can fly!


... tracks of stars. The idea came to make them be over some object. I opened the Google map to see where we have a pretty foreground. Then I arrived at the scene, took a test picture, made sure that the Polar Star was almost in the center of the frame, put the camera and went into the car. You can shoot on mirrors and any other equipment this way, but from there you will have to click - either on the console, and then glue them in Photoshop, or buy a special console that will do everything for you. So, I went to the car, then I checked that all the tracks were drawn, the next day I added a little bit of sharpness and contrast. And now you show the sky differently:


... Panning. When there is no money for a second lens, you can get by with a 24-70, 24-105 or 18-55 mm all-rounder. Now I have a universal zoom for 90% of situations - 12100 (EGF 24200). Sometimes, you see something wide, you want to take it off. You work with Lightroom, you know perfectly well that he collects panoramas. Here is an example: a church that was destroyed by the Bolsheviks, then it was restored with great love, and then this house - "pants" was placed next to it. The guys are asking for some crazy money for apartments, the building has been standing for 4 years for sure. I shot 5 frames, glued them together ... But the shopping center, the distance from the building to the end of the parking lot is 70 m. There is no way to go further back. We make a vertical frame for the panorama, there was still such a textured sky, we take 9 frames, collect the panorama, and Sedanka City buys this picture for itself for Instagram. We shoot the panorama from a tripod.

... Shooting through the glass. When removing from high windows, especially abroad, where they rarely open, you will come to the aid of simple advice. Take a rubber hood, which stands on Aliexpress 200 rubles, or a raincoat to protect the camera from precipitation. There were people in front of me, they turned on the flash, stood in front of the glass, pressed-looked, pressed-looked. A person is reflected there, and nothing is visible. And we take a camera and lay a raincoat or black cloth, you can even take your t-shirt, most importantly, we press it to the glass and isolate it so that there is no glare:


... Light brush. If home repair was done, you know that rods for roller for 250 rubles are sold, length is 3 m. This is my favorite thing. It is placed on the LED lamp, camera, manually set the focus settings, press the shutter release button for 30 seconds. I just go with a barbell and shine on an object, house or tree from all sides. Also helps headlamp, you can highlight the object head, while the camera in his hands. And here is the courtyard, the moon rises, I take a picture with a flashlight, and I have the feeling of looking in the back. In the window sits a cat, tupit on the moon, not moving. I see only brilliant eyes. And the place is quiet, uncrowded. The owners are already gone, and I have a feeling that the cat just lives in another time, in another world, we just happened to collide with it. In fact, he has a light, warm, calm, near a large family. Now he will drink milk and go to bed: 


... Super and telephoto lenses are great for wow effects. Buy lightweight telephones 75 / 300, a normal machine, worth the money. For example, here I went out to the balcony, I look, the crocodile will be eating the moon now. I check at home, and then do the dishes. The picture took place, thanks to the woman. And before this home 400 meters. Buy curtains! A telephoto lens can compress space well, and we can show the world differently to the viewer. Or a tap. Honestly, I did not see these guys, because the distance to them is 1 km. 260 m., But my bottom line is that there is a life under the sky.

When work - next to the clouds.jpg

... you must not be stopped by obstacles! Fence? Try to take off through it. Use silent mode. Coming in the evening to the location, do not take a 1 snapshot and do not run away. Here is another case: once in 20 km from Vladivostok, I saw an old fountain. There was an idea, I began to collect props from the world on a string. I drew my sword, then I remember that my friends had released unusual furniture. I remember that I have a familiar model, like a witch unkind. I decided to put it all together. I make an appointment, hang out a web, invite familiar spiders. A second photographer arrives, - and I always take on important events of a friend-photographer, because something can happen with the camera, with the car, people cannot be let down. Next comes the director of a furniture factory, a dog with a mastiff, a car with a chair, a make-up artist, and the aunt arrived, who brought things from her boutique for a model. And then without 5 eight comes sms: "I can not today." I am like this: it’s necessary, how bad it turned out! I understand that everyone is busy on Friday evening in summer. Nowhere to go, I look around, and who is sitting in our car there? They say to me: this is my daughter. I say: "Do you want to photograph you beautifully?" She: "I want." 13 yo girl. The light is red at the back, and on both sides of the 2 source. They followed her younger sister, and I liked this frame even more: 


  ... Do not complain that there is little light, or there is no tripod, or you are not allowed somewhere. If you are too lazy to shoot, just do not take pictures, do not mind your own business. The willing person is looking for opportunities. At night you can always find something to shine with! Only those who are poorly filmed work poorly. There are practically no ugly people, just like there are no desperate situations.  
... Give people a fairy tale. They love her. They deserve it. ”
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